Germany today – Part II

Muna Al Fuzai

Do we need a new policy to combat trafficking in heritage objects? I would say definitely yes. The Arab world faces the threat of loss of identity, including theft and destruction of monuments and museums. So I believe institutions like the German Archaeological Institute can help countries facing civil wars and conflicts to preserve their heritage by helping their citizens do so. It is not only institutional work, but humane and important too.

It is a great and noble intuitive from the Germans to support developing countries to preserve their heritage, and I see UNESCO taking a bigger part in this as a matter of pride. It is imperative to face the dangers of theft of antiquities by training security forces and authorities at all ports to firmly stop any such illicit attempts, whether by individuals or institutions. This requires collective action and international cooperation, like the war against terror. This is a serious issue that affects the history of countries. I believe Germany has all the resources to support such a global action in cooperation with UNESCO.

Our group paid an important visit to the German Commission for UNESCO. The UN agency’s headquarters is in Paris, but ties between UNESCO and Germany are old. A long time before the Federal Republic of Germany was admitted as a member of the United Nations in 1973, UNESCO opened the door to Germany’s return to international politics at a multilateral level. UNESCO in Germany today has several topics of interest within its field of work, including education, science, culture and communication.

The program also focused on Prussian cultural heritage, which includes national museums in Berlin. Berlin’s Museum Island is a magnificent work of art – an outstanding ensemble of five world-renowned museums. I advise everyone to go and visit the island. The complex has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After my visit, I know why, and UNESCO is right. From the bust of Egyptian queen Nefertiti, to the breathtaking Pergamon altar and the stunning Ishtar Gate, the museums have it all.

Germany has a policy to protect its history and cultural heritage. In Germany, cultural sites are endless and always wooing the public. There are calls for promoting private initiatives like the German Heritage Foundation, which seeks to create awareness among the society’s members.

Another example is the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen. It is a place not to miss. It was the world’s largest and most modern coalmining facility and a leading example of the development of heavy industry in Europe. Today, with its Bauhaus-influenced design, the mine is a triumph of modern industrial architecture and a center of art and culture.

Cologne Cathedral is a breathtaking site restored by experts .The place was packed with people from around the world and is surrounded with touristic shops. The Augustusburg and Falkenlust palaces form a historical building complex in Bruhl, North Rhine, and are amazing. The palaces were built at the beginning of the 18th century and are listed as UNESCO world heritage sites since 1984. They are proof that “anything made by man bears the mark of his time and place and once lost, it is gone forever”.

The participants of the program were all highly experienced, contributing to the enrichment of dialogue and diversity, whether geographical or cultural, which contributed to identifying other cultures and not only of the host country. Germany is a country that has survived wars, but does not want to forget its history. Germany today is strong because it knows how to preserve its identity.

Muna Al-Fuzai
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